By 90Min
September 17, 2018

Five-time European champions Barcelona kick-off their Champions League campaign at home to Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven.

Both teams have made a flawless start to the season, with Barcelona winning all four of their first La Liga matches, and PSV also sitting at the top of the Eredivisie with 15 points after five games.

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However, it's been a few years since either of these clubs did anything noticeable in European competitions. Barcelona haven't reached the semi-finals since 2015, a disaster by their own exceptional standards. PSV have only reached the knockout stages of Europe's premier competition twice since 2007, therefore both clubs will be looking to get this campaign off to the best possible start.


Classic Encounter


Barcelona 3-1 PSV Eindhoven (UEFA Cup Semi-Final 1977/78)


Barcelona have only been drawn against PSV three times in the past, so there is not an abundance of matches to chose from.

Therefore, the UEFA Cup Semi-Final on the 12th April 1978 is the stand-out. In the first-leg, PSV won 3-0 in front of their home fans, making them clear favourites to make the final.

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However, at the Camp Nou, the tie turned. Led by Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff, the Catalan club raced into a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.


With the tie on a knife edge, PSV's Nick Deacy scored in the 48th minute to make it 4-2 on aggregate.

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Barca scored again in the 69th minute, but it was PSV who went through to the Final.


PSV went on to defeat Bastia in the final 3-0, to win their first and only UEFA Cup to date.


Key Battle


Lionel Messi vs Daniel Schwaab


Despite having the likes of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Raktic in their ranks, Lionel Messi still remains Barcelona's stand-out player.

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If PSV are going to give themselves any chance of getting a good result at the Camp Nou, then they will have to shut Messi out of the game.


It will be exciting to see the culture clash between Barcelona's skilful attackers and PSV's more robust defence. The key battle will be how old-fashioned German centre-half Daniel Schwaab deals with the speed and poise of Messi.


Team News


Barcelona will be taking nothing for granted in this key fixture, so it appears they will be playing with a full-strength side. Coutinho and Sergio Busquets were both rested for Barca's match against Real Sociedad but are expected to return against PSV.

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So far this season, the Catalan club have yet to have any serious injuries. Spaniard Sergei Samper is the only player to find himself in the treatment room, after sustaining a sprained ankle.


Naturally, PSV will be playing a full-strength side against one of Europe's strongest clubs.


Predicted Line-ups


Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Coutinho, Raktic; Dembele, Suarez, Messi.

PSV Eindhoven: Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angelino; Rosario, Periero, Hendrix; Lozano, L De Jong, Bergwijn.


Prediction


Barcelona will be overwhelming favourites, and anything less than a convincing win for last season's La Liga champions will be a huge surprise. The Catalan's have not lost a home match in the Champions League group stage since 2009, so the fans and players of the side will have supreme confidence.

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For PSV, the match is an exciting prospect to prove themselves against the best. However, even the most optimistic of fans will acknowledge that it will be a huge task for PSV to qualify for the knockout stages ahead of Tottenham or Inter.


Predicted Scoreline: Barcelona 3-1 PSV Eindhoven

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